The flat top grill is one of the most versatile and flexible pieces of cooking equipment anyone can own. Whether you are searing off your favorite cut of meat, cooking a burger, making pancakes, or sautéing some veggies for a healthy side, a flat top grill can be a great addition to your BBQ arsenal.
While grills and smokers are often the first choices for BBQ enthusiasts, having a great flat top grill can do wonders for your backyard parties. Here, we take a look at the best flat top grills across various price points and discuss their pros and cons so that you can pick out the right product for your needs.
Let us take a look at what makes a good flat top grill and the important factors to keep in mind while buying the right one. This can help you find the best flat top grill in 2020.
|Blackstone 4 Burner||Best Value|
|Camp Chef 600||Best Overall|
|Royal Gourmet 4 burner||Runner Up|
|Blackstone Table top||Best Portable|
|Blackstone 28 inch||Most economical|
|Camp Chef 900||Best Large Flat Top|
Understanding Flat Top Grills
Before you can pinpoint the right product for your requirements, you need to understand the characteristic properties that make a flat top grill worth its price. Obviously, a good place to start is your use case. The kind of use you want to get out of your flat top can point you in the right direction.
Let us analyze some important characteristic properties regarding flat top grills, so you can see how they relate to your use case.
If your plan is to confine your grilling to your backyard or to cook for large gatherings and parties, a large grill that can cook a lot of food at once can be an automatic choice. However, if you are looking to cook small batches and would want to take your grill out camping from time to time, a smaller, portable option can be much more suited to your needs.
When it comes to portable grills, flat tops are some of the best and most convenient you can find. The right flat top grill can give great portability, a weight that you can manage, and excellent versatile cooking options no matter where you are. However, if you are looking for a larger, non-portable solution, there are great flat top grills in the market that tick all the right boxes too, giving you a large cooking area and the ability to cook large portions for your parties.
Cooking Area and Number of Burners
Following from the earlier point, the available cooking area is one of the most important characteristics you need to look at before deciding on a particular flat top grill. Flat top grills come in small, medium, and large sizes and it all depends on how many people you are planning to cook for regularly. Also, getting a grill that is a little bigger than your needs can serve you well as you would not have to cook in multiple batches if you do, in time, need to cook for a large gathering.
Along with the available cooking area, another important thing to look at is the number of burners at your disposal. Getting a flat top grill with more burners and a higher BTU output gives you the capability to get quick sears, while also giving you different heat zones for more versatile cooking options. Across the available product line, you would likely see many different configurations for burners and BTU ratings. A little careful consideration of your requirements can help you choose the right product.
Choice of Fuel
With flat top grills, you get to choose between electric-powered and gas-powered models. This is an important choice and can influence your cooking decisions to a great degree. This can tie in to your needs regarding the mobility and portability of the grill. If you intend to use your flat top grill mostly at home and do not mind it being tethered to an electrical outlet, it can make sense to go for an electric version that is cheap and convenient to run.
However, if you want to take your grill outdoors, you would need to purchase a gas grill that uses propane. While you would need to purchase the fuel separately and maintain all relevant precautions associated with using propane, you would get true portability.
Seasoning is a process that is applied to flat cooking surfaces made from metal so that they transfer heat better and develop non-stick properties. Cast iron pans and flat top grill surfaces are prime candidates for this. The seasoning process involves applying a thin coat of high smoke point, neutral taste cooking oil to the surface and applying high heat to it for a short period of time. This bakes in the later of oil and seasons the surface, while also helping get rid of chemicals and other residues.
While seasoning is a process that you might be able to do yourself quite easily, it is important to know if the flat top grill you are purchasing already comes pre-seasoned. If it does, you can get cooking with it straight away and save time and effort. Otherwise, you would need to learn how to season the cooking surface properly and carry out the process yourself.
Last but definitely not least, price is an important consideration when you are planning to purchase a flat top grill. Small tabletop grills can come even within a shoestring budget and get you started on the process of cooking with flat tops. Quality flat tops with larger cooking surfaces and more features can cost more. A professional quality flat top can set you back thousands of dollars.
You can set a budget depending on your needs and take a look at product options within that budget to start with. You can also receive crucial pointers from our product shootout where we compare flat top grills across various price points and suggest the best options.
Best Way to Clean a Flat Top Grill
Keeping your flat top clean can help increase service life. Deposits of food residue and grease can cling on to the flat top surface which needs regular and thorough cleaning because you really don’t want that to happen. Fortunately, you can easily accomplish this with the right tools.
To thoroughly clean the surface of your flat top grill, heat the grill to about 300 degrees and scrape the surface down with a griddle scraper. This gets rid of most of the deposits and debris. Then, pour hot water on the grill surface to loosen up the built-up grease. Next, put together your cleaning kit by attaching your griddle pad and screen to your scrub holder and thoroughly scrub the entire cooking surface of your flat top. It is ideal to do this while the surface is still warm.
You can follow up with a stainless cleaner product, which you can apply with a rag. Once cleaning is done, you would need to season the surface once again before you can start cooking. This is the best way to clean a flat top grill, keep it clean, and enhance its service life.
Flat Top Grill Recipe Ideas
A flat top grill is a versatile tool that allows for many different kinds of recipes and allows you flaunt your creative side when it comes to cooking. Here are a couple of ideas you can try as a starting point.
Smash burgers are delicious and coincide with a flat top like a ball and a glove do. Get your ground meat of choice, season with pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and your favorite herbs. Roll into the size of a golf ball and place on the grill. Then, you can smash the patty flat using two crossed-over spatulas. Cook, turn, and place a slice of cheese on top. While the burger cooks through, you can use another heat zone on the grill to caramelize some onions in butter for a sensational topping and also heat your burger buns through.
Lean meats and seafood can also be great cooked on a flat top. Simply season and place on the flat top with a little oil. Control the heat to achieve the right amount of doneness.
The versatility of the flat top means that you can also whip up a variety of sides and other dishes. Pancakes, bacon, eggs, veggies, and a host of other recipes can come to life if you have a flat top at your disposal.
Best Flat Top Grill Shootout
Here, we compare six of our favorite flat top grills and discuss their pros and cons. With this information, it can become significantly easier for you to find what you are looking for and get started on your delicious BBQ journey.
Best Value – Blackstone 1554 4-Burner
Since 2005, Blackstone has been creating excellent value products that combine quality and modern features. These are the qualities that have allowed them to create a foothold in the market. The flat top grill is the first product they launched after inception.
The original product was well-received and they have slowly but surely improved on the design and performance with every subsequent iteration. It’s also essential to remember that Blackstone products are designed in the USA, which negates many of the quality concerns customers often have regarding products with outsourced design. With lower taxes and less regulations, this is much easier to do for companies such as this so they don’t have to relocate to countries such as China or Mexico.
The first thing that strikes you about the Blackstone 1554 is the large cooking surface which measures 36×20 inches and provides 720 sq. inches of total cooking area. Made from rolled carbon 7-gauge steel, this is tough, durable, and likely to stand the test of time.
While you might need such a large cooking area all the time, it is good to have some extra space at hand if you do decide to cook for larger groups down the line. This also gives you more versatility due to the multiple heat zones that you can use creatively.
The 1554 uses propane as the fuel of choice, driving four burners with each producing up to 15,000 BTUs of heat for a total of a whopping 60,000 BTUs. The push-to-start quick ignition system makes it easy to get things going and each burner can be controlled and adjusted individually, allowing you more versatility in cooking temperatures across the flat top surface.
The front panel, made from stainless steel, contains the control and remains easy to clean with prolonged use. The frame of the grill is made from black powder-coated steel- another choice that enhances the overall quality and inspires confidence that this grill is capable of a very long service life.
Coming to the functionality and features built into the product, you would immediately notice the two large side shelves and a large bottom tray for storage. The side shelves make prepping a piece of cake while the tray at the bottom can be used to store all your utensils and equipment.
The cart legs are fitted with excellent locking caster wheels, making it easy to move the grill and secure it properly before cooking.
Since the grill runs on propane, you would have to attach a propane tank to it. Fortunately, this is made easy by the provided latching system that allows you to securely connect your tank to the unit. The whole thing is solid with the concept of safety in mind. Even Lloyd and Harry from Dumb and Dumber would be safe using this product.
A grease management system is built into the unit that can make cleanup a breeze and you can further enhance the unit with a diverse array of paid upgrades that include extra shelves, a custom grill cover, and wind guards.
- Excellent quality of materials and construction
- Great value for money
- Lots of cooking area with powerful burners
- Grease management system
- Stable yet mobile with locking casters
- No interchangeable griddle surface
- Only a year of warranty
Best Overall- Camp Chef 600 4-Burner
Our choice for the best overall flat top grill goes to this workhorse from the reputed house of Camp Chef, a well-known and popular brand in the world of BBQ. Camp Chef has been creating excellent products for the BBQ community since 1990 and their current product portfolio is huge, containing pellet grills, flat top grills, and cast iron cookware.
The focus has always been on a great price-to-performance ratio with practical features and dependable quality and the 600 4-Burner is no exception.
The main cooking area of the Camp Chef 600 4-Burner measures a total of 604 sq. inches, with a dimension of 31×20.5 inches. The propane-powered grill has a nifty feature that can entice you right off the bat- interchangeable cooking surfaces.
If you are looking for a traditional grill that can impart gorgeous grill marks, you can choose the included grill grates while the griddle surface provides you the ability to cook burgers, sides, and a host of other delicious dishes. The cooking surfaces are also pre-seasoned, allowing you to start using this unit immediately without any extra work.
The grill is powered by four burners, each putting out a maximum of 12,000 BTUs for a combined maximum heat output of 48,000 BTUs – enough power to take care of all your cooking needs – well unless you are Tim the Tool Man Taylor.
The system of heat dispersion negates hotspots on the cooking area for even, consistent heat, and the built-in electric ignition system can help you get the grill going with one touch. The surface can get hot enough for a quick sear and you can also opt for low and slow for other recipes. The burners can also be individually controlled to create custom heat zones.
The grill employs a dual-shelf open cart design that is great for accessibility and convenience.
The large shelves on each side of the cooking surface fold away for convenient storage and give you ample prepping space to work with. There are also two bottom shelves for easy storage. You can store all your utensils on the cart itself and organize your work without feeling cramped.
Stability is excellent with locking casters on the cart legs. Another solid feature is the ability to adjust your level with griddle and leg levelers so that you always get a flat surface for consistent cooking.
You can easily set up your propane tank with the unit using the built-in propane holder that securely holds your tanks while you use the included hose and regulator to set up your connection. The cleanup system is extensive, featuring a grease management system and a catch bucket. You can also use the griddle levelers to siphon off the grease whenever you need.
- Reasonable price, great performance
- Interchangeable cooking surface providers cooking flexibility
- Heavy-duty wheels inspire confidence
- Excellent cleanup and storage features
- Reliable ignition system
Only one year of warranty coverage
Runner-Up – Royal Gourmet 4-Burner
Established in 2014, Royal Gourmet is a brand that has quickly created a place for itself in an extremely competitive BBQ landscape filled with stalwarts and popular brands. They currently have a wide range of flat top grills, gas grills, and charcoal grills in the market along with smokers and other BBQ products. The Royal Gourmet 4-Burner ticks all the right boxes when it comes to ease of use, features, functionality, and delicious results.
Measuring 36×22 inches, the Royal Gourmet 4-Burner is a great utilitarian flat top grill that does the job at a great price. The dimensions create a total cooking area of 792 sq. inches that is enough for a veritable feast for a large group at your backyard party. The cooking area is provided by a pre-seasoned griddle plate that is 4.5mm thick and comes with two side handles.
This means that you have a versatile cooking area with variable heat zones that is also thick, durable, and easy to remove for cleaning.
Providing the heat for this propane-powered flat top grill are four tube burners made from stainless steel. Each burner can offer a maximum heat output of 13.000 BTUs for a total of 52,000 BTUs for the unit.
The burners can be controlled independently of each other to create variable heat zones on the cooking area for versatile operation. There is also a smart electric ignition system that works flawlessly, lighting up the grill with the push of a button.
The front control panel has been finished with sturdy stainless steel construction that is also easy to clean and maintain. The aesthetic effect is also quite pleasing to the eye.
The grill employs an open cart construction that makes it convenient to use and easy to maneuver while the four quality heavy-duty locking casters make movement easy. They also allow you to keep the grill securely in place while in use.
As far as convenience is concerned, the Royal Gourmet offering ticks all the right boxes. The two side shelves are spacious and provide you with ample space to store and prep your ingredients.
The lower shelves can be used to store tools and utensils. The unit also includes a secure bracket system that you can use to hold the propane tank in place for easy and safe usage.
Keeping a flat top grill is often a concern and the Royal Gourmet scores high on that count, making use of a simple, detachable grease cup that collects and stores grease drippings from the sides. This can then be detached using the included handle and disposed of quite easily.
This flat top is also available in another model variant that gives you a grill and griddle combo.
- Griddle side handles and detachable grease cup mak cleaning up easy
- Large cooking space can be enough for large parties
- Versatile cooking options with independent hot zones
- Upgraded smart ignition system works every time
- The back fo the grill can get hotter than the front for some users
- Side shelves are not foldable
- Some users report quality control, material, and construction issues
Best Portable – Blackstone Table Top Grill
For many people, a truly portable flat top grill is indeed one of the most important and powerful tools for a rewarding BBQ experience. With their pedigree and attention to detail, Blackstone has created a truly popular and versatile portable solution with their Table Top Grill.
The diminutive size should not fool you- this is a fully-fledged flat top grill that you can take anywhere and create exciting BBQ delicacies with.
Weighing only 21 pounds, the Blackstone Table Top Grill has a cooking area that measures 17×15.25 inches, giving you a total cooking area of 260 sq. inches. Once you get over the small size, you would quickly understand that you can actually get a lot of food cooked on this little flat top.
The griddle top incorporates a windshield into the design that also keeps things contained while cooking. The interesting design also comes in handy for storage and portability as you can simply store the griddle top upside down over the body.
Powering this small but powerful flat top is a uniquely designed stainless steel burner that is H-shaped. This unique design distributes the heat evenly onto the cooking surface and can create a whopping 12,000 BTUs of heat for such a small unit.
The tough, sturdy construction inspires confidence and the unit packs a punch for its size, being small enough to carry inside a large bag or backpack.
Blackstone has managed to add quite a few more interesting features into this small package. The grill uses propane as fuel and has a mechanism to use 1 pound propane bottles. The piezoelectric ignition system does a good job of getting things started reliably.
The unit is constructed with powder-coated stainless steel and the griddle with rolled steel for maximum durability.
There is also an integrated system of grease management placed in the rear of the unit that collects the grease efficiently, allowing you to just use a paper towel to mop up the top for simple cleaning.
The griddle also prevents flavor leaks and flare-ups, making sure that you have delicious results every time. With the extremely small size of the package, it is truly astounding what you can achieve with this if you plan your cooking the right way and take advantage of the inherent strengths of the product.
The model also comes in 19-inch and 22-inch variants if you are looking for something bigger yet equally portable.
- Excellent cooking capabilities in a small package
- Completely portable
- Available in different size variants
- Effective rear grease management system
- Easy to store and carry
- Attractive price
- One-pound propane tank needs replacing regularly with heavy use
- Some users report issues with the regulator unit
- The cooking area might not be enough for different requirements
- No extra features
Most Economical – Blackstone 28-Inch Outdoor 2-Burner
It is no wonder that our list has so many Blackstone products. This brand has been a mainstay in the market when it comes to flat top grills and once again, our pick for the most economical flat top is the Blackstone 28-inch Outdoor 2-Burner.
This utilitarian grill can provide great results while being reliable, durable, and a solid performer for a great price. If you do not need a very large cooking area, this can be just the choice for you.
The Blackstone 28-inch Outdoor 2-Burner unit provides you with a total of 270 sq. inches of cooking area- a happy medium between some of the smaller, more portable options and the larger, four-burner units that can take up a lot of space. Coming in at 75 lbs., this flat top is maneuverable, easy to use, and can deliver great results with long, reliable service life.
At the heart of the 28-inch lies two stainless steel burner units using the H-shaped construction for even heat output. Each burner can output a maximum of 15,000 BTUs of heat, giving you a total of 30,000 BTUs, more than enough for regular use.
The grill is easy to get started with a battery-powered electric ignition that works like clockwork every time. With two burners that you can control independently, you can easily create two distinct heat zones, making this a versatile option.
The stainless steel construction is complemented well with the foldable, portable design that makes this unit easy to move. Blackstone is always known for its quality of materials and construction and this grill is no exception.
The unit is equipped with two heavy-duty wheels with locking casters that further enhance easy movement while ensuring that the grill remains planted firmly in place while cooking.
The unit comes with a side shelf and a bottom shelf, making sure you have enough room to store all your utensils and tools while having space for prepping your ingredients. One thing that stands out with this grill is the supreme ease with which it can be assembled. Along with the open cart design and the storage options available, convenience is excellent.
The flat top is also a breeze to clean, thanks to the effective grease management system. The built-in grease catcher makes quick work of collecting grease during the cooking process. The unit also has a mounting system for a 20-pound propane tank, keeping it securely attached to the unit for safe operation.
The grill features a black powder-coated steel frame with durable stainless steel burners. The cooktop is made from thick cold-rolled steel for maximum durability. The slim profile and excellent usability, combined with the immensely attractive price, mean that this can well be your first flat top grill.
- Excellent quality of construction
- Compact, portable, foldable design
- Side and bottom shelf for convenient operation
- Reliable electric ignition system
- Two independent heat zones
- Effective grease catcher
- A respectable price
- No wind protection
- Some users report problems with drip channel
- Other models offer better features
Best Large Flat Top – Camp Chef 900 6-Burner
If you are really looking to turn things up and need to cook for very large groups and parties, you need a flat top grill that can provide the heat output and cooking area to make that possible.
That is where the Camp Chef 900 6-Burner flat top grill comes in. Overall, this is the best large flat top grill in our opinion.
The selling point of the Camp Chef 900 is the huge 877 sq. inches cooking surface that is pre-seasoned and non-stick for a convenient cooking experience. Made from cold rolled steel, the cooking surface is tough, durable, and has an integrated splash guard to make sure your food stays on the griddle. This gives you enough space to cook individual dishes for 20 people or more.
You get enamel-coated grill grates and also a griddle, allowing you to switch between them easily depending on your cooking needs. The main griddle has a heat diffuser built into the bottom that prevents cold spots and creates even, consistent heat across the entire cooking surface.
The griddle also has leveling bolts that go well with the cart leg levelers to ensure a truly level cooking surface that prevents food from sliding off.
Powering this behemoth are six stainless steel burners that are covered by grease shields and sit inside a box of powder-coated steel. Three knobs at the front control panel of the grill allow you to control these individually, giving you an incredibly versatile cooking area to work with.
The burners each put out a maximum of 12,000 BTUs of heat, which means that you have a whopping total 72,000 BTUs of heat at your disposal. Needless to say, this can create some very interesting possibilities. The control knowns are durable and connect with the matchless ignition system for easy operation.
The grill makes great use of the open cart design and conveniently gives you two large side shelves and two bottom shelves. While the bottom shelves are great for storage, the side shelves can work perfectly as prepping stations and can also conveniently fold down when you need to store the grill. The grill runs on propane and comes with all the necessary accessories- connectors, regulators, and hoses. A 20-pound tank can be securely attached to the unit for safe operation.
Cleanup is easy with the Camp Chef 900 with a main grease management system in the front and a secondary grease pan that is mounted at the bottom. Any grease flows evenly into these catchers and there are no leaks. The unit even comes with an integrated bottle opener, making it easy for you to catch a cold one while you are cooking.
The unit comes with two large wheels and two heavy-duty swivel locking casters which, combined with the levelers, create a truly stable cooking platform. This is the largest flat top grill Camp Chef makes and the quality of materials and construction is truly amazing, making this a workhorse of a grill that can be a stellar match for large families and parties, and also as a food cart griddle if that is what you are looking for.
- Huge cooking area
- Six powerful burners for adjustable heat zones
- Sturdy construction
- Excellent grease management system
- Ample storage options
- Can be used as griddle or grill
- An affordable purchase
- Extremely heavy and hard to move around
- Difficult to assemble
- Some users report finish issues
Our Favorite Exposed
All of these flat top grills can provide excellent utility and take you on a journey of BBQ satisfaction. Depending on your needs, any product from this list can become a trusty sidekick in your BBQ adventures if you are looking for the best outdoor flat top grill. These come from reputed brands and enjoy a following of faithful customers who swear by these products.
If you are looking for a truly portable option you want to carry outdoors, the Blackstone Table Top is hard to beat. On the other hand, the Camp Chef 900 is a beast of a performer if you want a large flat top that can reliably handle regular cooking duties for large gatherings. However, for most home users with moderate needs, our top pick is the Camp Chef 600 which brings quality, versatility, interchangeable cooking surfaces and great value to the table.
We hope that you can get all the relevant information about flat top grills you need from this discussion and this can be the start of a satisfying BBQ journey for you.